We thought we’d do something a bit different for the weekend, because not everybody is actually working during the weekend. And even if we do, we deserve a break from time to time. For just this occasion, we have poured across the four corners of the Web and amassed a collection of retro games to help you make the absolute most of your break time this weekend… and possibly any break time you take from this day forth.
Now you’re ready to take some time off and unplug, let’s stroll down memory lane, the gaming way. Focusing on the days of the old DOS-based games, we sourced some emulators so that you could revisit your old favorites once again without having to downgrade your machine. So flex some willpower (or kiss your weekend goodbye) and dive into the deep end of this DOS-day throwback to get your ROM on.
Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia is a 2-D platformer with run and jump game play. Your hero must avoid deadly traps, solve some simple puzzles and engage in sword fights with guards. As the hero, you have an infinite number of lives, but you have to restart the level every time you die, and you must complete the game within an hour. The very fluid animation of your character is especially noteworthy. The game is still available for free downloading.
Your task is to rescue lemmings across 120 levels of fast-paced puzzles. The creatures simply walk blindly through the world in the hope of reaching safety at the end of the level. Unfortunately, these levels include steep drops, gaps in the ground, barriers and rivers, among other hazards. You can play Lemmings online.
Pac-Man, an arcade classic, takes a new form in this colorful clone. CD-Man features five different worlds to complete, each with nicely drawn graphics in high-res EGA mode, and a new character, The Snoofer, who was not available in version 1.5 (in which you had only your old pal to play with).
In Goody, you are a thief with a mission to break into a Spanish bank. For your mission, you’ll need appropriate tools, such as a torch and pincers. On your way to the bank, you must avoid policemen, gorillas, kung-fu experts, women sweepers and paper airplanes… that is to say, the typical problems any thief would face.
In this game, the hero must use his club to crush animal enemies, many of which then release bonus items you can collect. Unlike in the original game, the character now no longer needs to feed his clan, so there is no minimum food target. Other bonus items are located around the levels, and even more can be found using your club creatively and adventurously.
SimCity sets you up as mayor of a new municipality, with the responsibility of building and maintaining a space where citizens can live and work in and be happy. The first task is to put in place essentials, such as housing, transportation links, schools, factories and shops. You have 50 types to choose from, with homes of various standards and businesses of various types; you’ll have to consider which site is appropriate for each purpose. Some power sources pollute; others don’t but are more expensive. Taxes must be raised to ensure income, and then portions of them must be allocated to public services such as policing and roads. Earthquakes, floods and fires are all emergency situations you must deal with to minimize damage.
Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle (DOTT)
The Edison mansion has always been a creepy old house at the edge of town. There have been rumors of strange experiments and odd creatures living amongst the Edison family. There is even a story that a meteorite once crashed near the home nearly 20 years ago. More immediately, a girl named Sandy has gone missing from the local high school, and her boyfriend, Dave, swears that he saw Dr. Fred abduct her. Dave knows he cannot do this alone and will need help from two other students if he has any hope of infiltrating the mansion and rescuing Sandy.
The Secret of Monkey Island
The Secret of Monkey Island is an adventure game that uses the command verb-based SCUMM interface first introduced in Maniac Mansion. You construct commands for your character, Guybrush, by clicking on the appropriate verb and then clicking on the inventory item or object in the room you want to interact with. It is the first LucasArts’ adventure game in which getting irrevocably stuck or dying is impossible. The branching dialogue system, in which you choose one of the available responses while talking to people, allows you to speak to characters in different ways, without fear of making a wrong choice. There are plenty of inventory-based puzzles to solve and even “insult sword fighting,” in which Guybrush has to prove that his wit is as sharp as his sword!
The player controls Pac-Man through a maze, eating pac-dots. When all dots are eaten, Pac-Man moves to the next stage. Between some stages, one of three intermission animations plays. Four enemies (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde) roam the maze, trying to catch Pac-Man. You have three lives when you start, and if an enemy touches Pac-Man, a life is lost. When all lives are lost, the game ends. Here is one of many places you can play Pac-man online
Digger is an arcade game that combines elements of the popular arcade games Dig Dug and Mr. Do!. Players control the titular Digger, who can tunnel through dirt with ease. The goal of each level is to gather up all of the gems. However, Nobbins and Hobbins are also lurking on the levels: Nobbins are fairly slow but can transform into Hobbins, which are much quicker. The enemies can chase Digger only through the tunnels he creates; they cannot dig through dirt themselves.
Leisure Suit Larry
Larry, the game’s protagonist, is a short, tacky, balding, leisure suit-wearing kinda guy who’s constantly searching for his next score. His combination of stupidity and brashness tends to get him into trouble. The object of the game is to get out of trouble in traditional adventure fashion, finding and manipulating objects as you thread your way through the story line.
Loom is an adventure game from LucasFilm. What sets Loom apart from other adventure games (notably those released by Sierra) is its unique interface: you do not carry items around but rather manipulate existing items through spells. The spells are cast by playing magical notes on a special distaff. Loom also features three difficultly levels, differentiated by their interface: the standard level features the distaff at the bottom of the screen, but the notes aren’t written, whereas the expert level doesn’t show the distaff and you have to replay the spells by ear.
In this classic game, you must move crates to make a path to the exit. But this game goes beyond the simple premise and toughens the challenge on each level. By the final levels, you must plan 40 steps in advance.
Duke Nukem II
Duke Nukem II is a platform game featuring the famous muscled hero Duke Nukem. While giving an interview on TV, he is captured by the evil Rigelatins, who intend to use his brain to conquer Earth. Duke easily escapes his prison cell and now must make his way through four episodes, each consisting of an assortment of levels, with varying graphic design. On his way, Duke has to make his way through many obstacles and destroy enemies, both Rigelatin forces and apparent local wildlife. Initially, Duke has a weak laser rifle, but he can find a flamethrower (which allows you to launch yourself by shooting down), a rocket launcher and a far more powerful laser cannon. Unfortunately, the stronger the weapon, the less ammo it can hold. The game is available as a free download.
Micro Machines 2
As with its predecessor, in this second game in the Micro Machines series, you’re behind the steering wheel of an extremely small car. You race around on interesting surfaces, like tables and tree houses.
Golden Axe puts you in the shoes of one of three heroes, each with their own reason to try to overthrow the evil rule of Death-Adder. The evil ruler, along with his forces of darkness, kidnapped and imprisoned the king and his daughter and stole the legendary Golden Axe. This is a horizontal fighting game in which, as one of the three characters (a warrior, dwarf or amazon), you bash everything that stands between you and Death Adder himself.
Billy “Commander Keen” Blaze, an eight-year-old genius, has flown to Mars in his Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket, built from common household objects. But while Keen was exploring Mars, the alien Vorticons stole vital parts of his ship and hid them in Martian cities. Keen must now find the stolen parts if he wants to return to Earth.
Inspired by the top-down infiltration game Castle Wolfenstein, this innovative episodic FPS puts you in the boots of B.J. Blazkowicz, allied spy. There are six episodes: the first distributed as shareware, the second and third available upon registration, and the final three (set before the events in the first episode) available in the “Nocturnal Missions” pack. However, they don’t need to be played in sequence to be enjoyed!
Chicago 90 is an action game in which you can be a gangster or a policeman. As a gangster, you’re on the run from the police. As a cop, your mission is to catch the gangster. You can choose from three difficulty levels as your skills grow.
Sid Meier’s Civilization
Civilization has the longest sweep of any strategy game of its time. You are leader of a nation. You begin in the Stone Age and complete the game in the 21st century (unless your civilization is destroyed by then). Your goal is to become the world’s dominant civilization, either by wiping out everyone else or by being the first to send a spaceship to Alpha Centauri.
Doom / Doom II
In this sequel to the original Doom, you play the same hero, the last remaining space marine. After single-handedly saving Mars from demonic threat, you return to Earth, only to find that the demons have already invaded it and killed all of its inhabitants or turned them into demons. Your task is to kill all the demons and save the Earth.
F1 is the official Formula One racing game. Two modes of play are available, Arcade and Grand Prix. In both modes, you complete a certain number of laps (4, 8 or 12) and select the circuit to race on. The circuits are in San Marino, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Japan and Australia.
Mortal Kombat is a side-scrolling one-on-one fighting game that allows players to perform a variety of punches, kicks and special moves to defeat their opponent. When an opponent is about to lose a second round, the vanquisher can perform a finishing move, called a “fatality.” Each fighter has a unique fatality, by which they graphically kill the loser in a blood-soaked finale.
Five events are on offer in this Olympics-style sports game. You can choose your nationality and then play the games individually or as part of a tournament. The events are hurdles, triple jump, skeet shooting, diving and fencing. Each event’s control system involves rotating the joystick and firing at the right moment. Fencing is viewed isometrically, and skeet shooting has a 3-D view positioned behind the competitor, which is typical of the unusual approaches taken to the events here; the creators opted not to fill the game with 10 or more generic by-the-numbers offerings.
Test Drive 3: The Passion
Drive exotic cars while fleeing police in the sequel to the popular Test Drive series. New features included a true 3-D engine, a selection of music on the radio, police evasion, instant replay, digitized dashboard and interiors and larger, more diverse driving environments, with multiple routes.
By playing the humans or the orcs in this saga, two separate story lines emerge, with 12 scenarios per side unfolding the tale of the battle for Azeroth. Players must mine gold and chop wood to construct buildings and create new units. From swords to sorcery, you explore all the elements of classic fantasy. Rich forests, dark dungeons and bubbling swamps await the stalwart troops amassed to fight for dominance. You can command many unique armies and creatures, including knights, archers, clerics, warlocks, daemons, elementals and necromancers, who are able to raise the dead.
Dune II is often considered the first mainstream modern real-time strategy game, and it established many conventions of the genre. Though set in Frank Herbert’s famous Dune universe, the game is only loosely connected to the plots of the books and films. Controlling one of the three houses, the player must fight a number of battles against the other houses. In the early levels, the goal is simply to earn a certain number of credits, while in later missions, you have to destroy all enemies.
You are a gravedigger named Samuel, and you’ve heard of the famed Loodam Crypts and all the riches they contain. This game is a top-down action and puzzle adventure in which your goal is to collect as many jewels as possible, while avoiding monsters and traps, and then search for the exit. You have a shovel with which to kill weak enemies and find strong ones as the game progresses. Most levels have a puzzle whose solution requires setting combinations of switches in the correct order and finding keys.
Worms is a turn-based strategy game. It features up to four teams of four worms, each team aiming to destroy the others on a generated terrain. Each worm has 100 hit points and dies when the hit points fall to 0. Upon death, the worm explodes, causing damage to everyone around.
Incredible Machine is a puzzle game in which the player has to assemble a Rube Goldberg-type contraption to solve a simple puzzle. The game consists of a series of puzzles, each with a clear objective, such as “put the baseball in the basket” or “turn on the fan.” To solve them, you are given a number of parts—such as balls, girders, rope, balloons, seesaws, cats and monkeys—and your job is to arrange and connect them on the playing field so that, upon clicking the “Start puzzle” button, the whole contraption activates and achieves the objective. Test your puzzle-solving skills with the free download.
One of the classic 3-D car-racing simulations, offering a variety of cars and opponents to choose from. The game features unusual stunt objects, including loops, corkscrews and jumps. You can watch your race in instant replay from different camera angles. A track editor is included as well.
The evil Akuma has destroyed your homeland, killed many of your friends and kidnapped Princess Mariko. Fortunately, you are skilled in martial arts, so your inevitable quest to reach Akuma’s palace has a hope of success.
The Settlers II: Veni, Vidi, Vici
This is the sequel to the well-known Settlers game. You start your settlement with only one main building. To construct other buildings, you must find a source of stones and wood. So, you begin building little roads along which your men can transport all the different goods. You can choose from over 30 different professions for your men and from many different building types. Of course, other settlers are in the area, too, so war is unavoidable.
You control Mario, who has to flip turtles coming out from two pipes at the top of the screen. The goal is to defeat the turtles and score points by flipping them from underneath, not jumping on them. All game play is on a single screen—no scrolling levels like in regular Mario games.
An enemy with the codename Quake, believed to be from another dimension, is using teleporter gates to invade Earth. You take the role of an anonymous soldier who arrives at your base only to find that Quake has overrun it and killed everyone. Somewhere on the base must be a teleporter to Quake’s realm. Your mission is clear: take the fight to the enemy, overcoming countless hordes of monsters, and exact revenge.
King’s Bounty and King’s Bounty 2
As a knight, paladin, barbarian or sorceress, you must amass an army of creatures to take on the local baddies and search for the Sceptre of Order. This is a turn-based game with a time limit that decreases the higher you go in skill level. Depending on your allegiance, you start with one set of creatures, although the king will not mind whether you’re his knight or barbarian. A game contains four maps, each with mean creatures to control and meaner opponents to fight. Acquiring these maps early allows you to find and buy more mean creatures, in turn helping you to easily conquer previous maps.
Wing Commander is a space-combat simulator interspersed with shipboard dialogue. On board the ship, you can save and load the game, visit the bar to get the latest gossip or go to the next mission briefing and 3-D space-combat mission.
Hocus Pocus is an action platform game. Controlling the young magician, you run, jump and climb through levels populated by various types of monsters. Hocus encounters many magic potions on the way, some of which restore health and others that grant special powers, such as super-jumps, which let you access new areas, and laser shots, which make for better attacks.
Supaplex is a puzzle game reminiscent of Boulder Dash. You make your way through levels by finding the exits, while collecting Infotrons and avoiding the killer Zonks.
Grand Theft Auto
In Grand Theft Auto, you take the role of a small-time criminal trying to make it big with the mob. Stealing cars, running jobs for gangsters and behaving generally anti-social is your path to success.
Brix is a nearly exact clone of the Taito game Puzznic. You are presented with an array of pieces, which you can move horizontally, and when two or more of the same type touch, they disappear. The idea is to do that to every pair of bricks painted with the same geometrical shape… and fast, ’cause time runs out quickly. When you have an odd number of a particular piece, remove them by having them make simultaneous contact.
This is the original Russian version of Lines. It is a turn-based board game. On each turn, three randomly colored balls fall on random squares of a 9×9 grid. Your mission is to reposition the balls (moving them one per turn) to form lines consisting of five or more balls of the same color. The lines can be arranged vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Each full line you build immediately disappears, giving you points. There is basically no end to the game, but your first objective is to surpass the 3000 points scored by the “king.” Once you surpass him, he loses the throne and you become the new king. But the game continues ad infinitum. You lose when the entire board is filled with balls. You can play the game online, too.
Before you can run these old ROMs and get the gaming underway, you need to load an emulator onto your machine. So, grab one of the several we have selected for you here, and let the games begin!
A good choice of emulator because of its availability in multiple languages and the variety of operating systems it works on.
The emulator of choice for those running Macs. It comes with some games to get you started.
The emulator that most Linux users opt for. If you’re one of them, you might want to start here.
Galleries of ROMs
Today is officially game day, so scroll through the galleries we have amassed for you and lose yourself in all of the retro goodness. But take note: if you are on break, then we here at Smashing take no responsibility whatsoever if you get carried away and don’t get back to work on time. Not that we expect anything of the sort…
- Best Old Games
A great source of downloadable blasts from the past.
- Keepers of the Forgotten Games
A German website with a few emulator links and quite a large selection of games.
- RGB Classic Games
A website loaded with a lot of old freeware games and shareware demos.
- DOS Games Archive
Just that: a large archive of 275 free downloadable games, including shareware, freeware and more.
- DOS Museum
Actually a non-profit website dedicated to preserving vintage DOS games and applications.
- Dope DOS Roms
Another hub loaded with thousands of different ROMs.
- Replacement Docs
A great place to find manuals for the games you’ve download.
What’s your favourite DOS/Video game?
What game did you like most when you were playing on DOS? Let us know in the comments to this post!